Summit Group Partners Blog

Leadership Qualities and the Role of CEOs in Today's Economy - PART 2

 The CEO will be the person who can most impact the organization’s ability to transform the organization and soar through development of disruptive strategies, engaging and empowering the organization, being the ambassador in the market place for the company or brand and through establishing the vision.

 In part one, we defined leadership as “the ability to galvanize an organization, its people and systems towards a common vision while bringing people to places they would not necessarily reach on their own.” That sounds great, but with all the stimulus that a CEO has thrown at him or her, how does one do that? Where should a CEO of today spend their time and what are the key attributes for a CEO in today’s state of uncertainty, instability and volatility?


The most important roles that a CEO should embrace and excel at are those of visionary, facilitator and conductor. Developing the vision, setting the strategic direction, bringing together the needed resources and empowering the organization to excel are of the highest value a CEO can deliver. How does one allocate his or her time when it seems like a monumental task to meet all of the needs of the organization?


Time allocation is a tough task for most CEOs. In my efforts coaching CEOs throughout the country, I see many areas where CEOs misallocate their time. It normally shows in that they move to the comfort zone of their technical background, be it marketing, operations or finance. It eats up significant time and leaves more critical areas unattended. The fear of being outside their comfort zone or not fully realizing what it means to be the CEO causes a misuse of valuable time that once lost cannot be recovered. I see leaders spend time on people issues, tactical items and creating routines for themselves that leave them unable to respond quickly and effectively to the opportunities that present themselves. It leaves the organization waiting for the leadership it needs. It doesn’t mean that a portion of time doesn’t have to be focused on these issues, but it should be for establishing the process and systems to manage these aspects of the business and periodically checking in but not daily management of them.


The CEO will be the person who can most impact the organization’s ability to transform the organization and soar through development of disruptive strategies, engaging and empowering the organization, being the ambassador in the market place for the company or brand and through establishing the vision. These are the areas where a majority of time should be spent.

A significant amount of time should be focused on the high leverage roles. Spending a quarter or a third of time listening and engaging with the organization, at all levels, can be as powerful and permanent as a new business plan. I work with many CEOs who underestimate the impact that their actions or words can have on an organization. When I used to walk through the plants of my last corporate CEO role, I could feel the eyes on me to see where I would stop and what I might say. One visit could have an impact to spark something great or bring the morale right to the bottom. Understanding this and using these opportunities to engage and energize the organization can be powerful.


The same is true with other permanent impact initiatives. Strategic planning, setting the vision and culture are crucial roles for a CEO. Developing joint ventures, evaluating acquisitions, creating disruptive strategies, revolutionary products or services and other items that cause a shift in how the industry operates is a significant place for the CEO to spend his or her time. If successful, the first to market will give the organization a great head start over the competition as everyone else tries to define what the shift means and how to respond. Again, spending a quarter to a third of ones time in this space is critical to driving a business which raises above all others.


Focusing time related to development of people and future leaders is a significant role the CEO has to lead. Many middle market and small companies are driven by the actions and abilities of the CEO while the rest of the organization waits for the single to respond and act. This is not conducive to long term sustainability. Development is different than empowerment but empowerment can live without development efforts.

To accomplish the role today, CEO attributes have significantly changed over time. Long gone are the days that a great functional leader can move an entire organization to outrageous success (double digit growth, market leadership, etc). A CEO must have some strength in all of the functional areas while being smart enough to hire the experts in each area who are smarter than he or she. The most important attributes needed to be a true “leadership CEO” are:


• Have focus on your convictions and beliefs
• Active listening to customers, the market and employees
• Be able to visualize a new reality and get people excited about the possibilities even when     times are tough
• Surround yourself with people who are better than yourself at their profession
• Empower the organization and people to influence and impact the results
• Consensus building towards the common goal
• Ability to let go and delegate to the team
• Flexibility
• When required, be decisive
• Don’t accept mediocrity from yourself or the people around you


Looks like a long list, but the role has evolved so greatly that anything less will not optimize the opportunities we all have in front of us.


About the author

Kevin Lombardo
Kevin P. Lombardo, Founder and CEO

Kevin founded Summit Group Partners to support businesses throughout the United States in their quest to accelerate a transformation and achieve sustainable change through strategies of growth, expansion and operational excellence. His passion is to help businesses and executives maximize their potential. Throughout his consulting career, Kevin has formally coached over 25 CEOs and business owners representing 10,000 employees’ globally and nearly $2 billion in revenues and helped them to unlock human potential and shareholder value. With 14 years of direct P&L leadership and over two decades of management and consulting experience in multiple industries Kevin can quickly bring the resources together to make an immediate impact on any organization. Kevin participates on various industry panels and has spoken at corporate and industry events throughout the country on the topic of accelerated sustainable change. Furthermore, he has authored numerous articles on corresponding subjects and has been interviewed by media outlets throughout the country.

Kevin directs all engagements for Summit Group Partners from inception and guides their progress throughout in order to ensure consistency and efficiency in all services delivered. He also manages client relationships and develops optimum solutions tailored for each client’s specific need. He has extensive experience assisting both healthy and distressed companies with M&A transaction leadership, revenue growth, operational improvements, restructuring debt, negotiating with creditors and unions along with locating financing.

Prior to forming Summit Group Partners, Kevin built two nationally renowned consulting practices from 2004 through 2010. Kevin has held numerous senior executive positions including CEO, President, CRO, EVP and CFO of publicly traded, privately held, Fortune 500 and private equity led businesses. Kevin has an extensive background in business leadership, strategic planning, growing revenue, profits and shareholder value of numerous businesses, executive development, entrepreneurship and turnaround management. As CEO of a $300 million dollar supplier of print services, Kevin led the transformation from a stale business model to a growth engine for the parent company, achieving revenue growth of 7% after multiple years of decline, reaching and sustaining the number one market share position and supporting the stock price increase of 300% within 15 months of taking the leadership role. He has held the position of CRO multiple times and has three times led businesses through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process with each company successfully emerging with a confirmed plan of reorganization. He has led and executed the management of the merger, acquisition, divestiture and integration of over two dozen businesses with total transaction value in excess of $1.5 billion. Kevin received both his BS and MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo. In addition, he holds a graduate certificate from Cornell University in Human Resource Management.


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posted by Aimee Miller on Tuesday, 03 April 2012

Kevin Lombardo has been appointed as interim CEO by the Hopi Tribe Economic Development Corporation (HTEDC) in Flagstaff, AZ.

posted by Aimee Miller on Monday, 05 March 2012

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